Mar 9th, 2011
First, please read the statement ALA released from the Task Force late yesterday (as Task Force members were flying home from DC). Just so you know, ALA staff that are a part of and assisting the Task Force worked on it quite a lot with us, though the entire 20 member task force approved its contents. It is written to address and update everyone related to what the Task Force is working on and has set as priorities given our charge via the ALA Council Resolution that passed at the ALA Annual Conference this summer. Press Release
Second, I will copy and paste below a few comments I left on my facebook page in response to reaction from my linking to the Boing Boing piece today on the Task Force’s work. These are my observations and opinions alone, but they are unadulterated and what I believe in relation to all of this and what ALA and I and YOU can do (with ALA anyway).
“Kate Kosturski This is good, Michael, but ebooks and DRM issues have been around for quite a bit of time (well, in the tech world). Why so long for such a task force to be established? I feel as though the community had an opportunity to break new ground in this realm for some time, and just didn’t react until things didn’t go their way.
David Leslie Like Kate said, thanks to the success of iTunes and Amazon, this ship has sailed. The next fight is going to be magazines and journals IMHO.
Michael Porter Kate, I SO agree. I ran for ALA Council because I felt exactly the same way. Before I was “installed” as a Councilor I worked with my (soon to be) fellow Councilors to pass a resolution that had ALA take a stand on these issues….finally. I ran and was elected to ALA’s Executive Board at Annual this summer with this as my primary issue.
Kate Kosturski It is one of the things that frustrates me about this profession – our very reactive approach to advocacy, marketing and issue formation. I do hope you get something done though. I’ll go back to watching my cartoons now (ah the joys of being home sick).
Michael Porter I absolutely agree we are behind the ball here in some respects. But I am trying to help use what I know to lead. Kate, you are right, but we have things and people in place that are doing all they can to chart a path forward. Please support these people and these efforts. ALA is a org with a rich tradition and deep respect in circles we must have entry into in org to tackle this. So please…
Kate Kosturski When you put it that way, I’ll get behind you. (I’m also just very much burnt out from hearing about HarperCollins and ebooks.)
Rosario Garza Agree with Kate and David — ALA is VERY LATE in addressing this issue, which just reinforces the image of it being a stodgy, slow-to-react organization. Have been VERY DISAPPOINTED with the official pronouncements to date.
Michael Porter …keep think, talking and working on this….help be a part of the solution…WE FINALLY HAVE SOLID TRACTION. The work to get these Task Forces up and funded and selected and running has been a LONG while in the making. It is coincidence that recent developments cam e up these past coupe weeks as they did (though clearly again, this was overdue). I was frustrated and have done all I can to work within the system and in outside ways to assist (libraryrenewal.org and my day job at WebJunction). Please, when the site for the Task Force goes live, jump in…help us chart the wisest course forward and, most importantly, all of us…we each will have to do work to make this happen. It will require effort from all of us. Real time and energy and follow though…beyond a blog post or comments.
Also, please understand that this Task Force is not all of ALA. We are a piece of it. We cannot do everything, we cannot act as ALA spokespeople to many degrees. We are simply members trying to work to do the right thing within (and sometimes to expand) the scope of ALA. I know that we all share the same frustrations and concerns you have. It’s why we are trying to take action by diving in more and also trying new things that are outside the ALA system *cough* Library Renewal *cough*”
Finally, later in the afternoon/early evening there has been one last development of note. Again, this is what I (just) posted to my facebook wall. I invite your comments here, there or wherever you think they will reach me most effectively (no comments from the peanut gallery there!):
After multiple urgent conversations and email threads with some folks from both ALA Task Forces working on electronic content access issues (EQUACC and eBook), some senior leadership at ALA and some additional key staff at ALA, we will be have a meeting tomorrow morning to discuss immediate action ALA should consider or take.
I’d ask for your feedback to take to this meeting while at the same time implore you to consider the position of the org, relationships the org must maintain and build and also consider the limitation of the org.
I would also ask that you read the thread below (the Boing Boing) thread. My comments there provide context we must consider. As Eli Neiburger said in a recent Library Renewal post, Outrage is Not Adaptive….even when it is understandable.
Having said this, and trusting your read the thread below (above in this blog post)…how can I best represent libraries tomorrow in that meeting?”
So…yes, this is short notice. And yes, I have already been directly collecting feedback from literally dozens of us in Libraryland to take back to ALA on this…and I have been working with others who are doing the same (including Librarian by Day, Bobbi Newman) to ensure we have done all we can to get traction in appropriate ways at ALA. I’m doing all I can.
So if you are concerned or upset by this entire situation, please ask yourself, Are you doing or willing to do all you can? Am I willing to do that in the most thoughtful and productive ways? Please remember how much easier it is to complain and how very hard it is to DO. So send your suggestions, and if you are outraged be prepared to and committed to do work on this for years. The future of libraries, not just in America, but the world over is truly at stake. Also, remember as you think on this that ALA is not a panacea, they are a piece in this unfolding puzzle. And they can definitely do more and improve, yet we are many pieces in the puzzle together. If we carefully use our voices and power for thoughtful, carefully planned, intentional action we can ensure vibrant libraries in a world dominated by access in electronic formats vs. print or physical formats. We can do this. We MUST do this.
Let the comments and emails commence. And hey, while your at it, wish me and all those folks buried in this luck, patience and understanding. We are pretty wiped out at the moment to be honest and can use the good thoughts and energy.